News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 11, 2012

Woman charged with obstruction in stabbing investigation

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute woman has been charged with obstruction of justice and false reporting in connection with a Sept. 25 stabbing in the 1500 block of Ohio Street.

Kaitlyn Thornberry, 19, allegedly erased text messages sent to a person involved in the stabbing and reportedly misled police about her actions prior to the stabbing.

Thornberry appeared via video in Vigo Superior Court 6 on Wednesday afternoon where Judge Michael Lewis set her bail at $10,000 cash only.

Detective Rick Decker told the judge that Thornberry initially told police she had been asleep in a bedroom when the stabbing, involving two men, occurred. She also showed police her cell phone, and said she had neither sent nor received text messages from the alleged suspect on the day of the stabbing.

However, when the suspect was questioned by police following the incident, his cell phone showed numerous text messages from Thornberry, including requests that he “come in” to the apartment where the stabbing occurred.

Decker said that after he took over the investigation, Thornberry did admit to sending text messages to the suspect, who is her former boyfriend, and said she had erased the text messages that she sent to him. She also admitted to not being asleep when the stabbing occurred. She also told Decker that her current boyfriend, the actual renter of the apartment, had asked her to invite her former boyfriend to the apartment.

Decker also stated in court that when he asked Thornberry why she did not tell her former boyfriend that her current boyfriend was at the apartment, she answered that she did not think her former boyfriend would come to the apartment if she told him about her current boyfriend.

The judge found probable cause for Thornberry’s arrest.

Following Wednesday’s court hearing, Terre Haute Police Assistant Chief Shawn Keen spoke to news media about the arrest of Thornberry, and the reason no one has been arrested in connection with the actual stabbing.

He also refuted statements about the case made on social media websites and on news media websites about alleged mishandling of the investigation.

“Many times, we are able to make an immediate arrest,” Keen said, “but in this case, the decision by the detectives and supervisor, in consultation with the prosecutor’s office, was not to make an immediate arrest, and it was based on a totality of circumstances. The text message evidence, the false statement provided by Thornberry, and the inability to get a formal statement from the alleged victim at the time all played a significant role.”

Police have not released the name of the stabbing suspect or the stabbing victim. Keen said the victim, who was taken to an area hospital and then transferred to an Indianapolis hospital due to the severity of his injuries, has since been released from the hospital.

“I realize that from the outside, it becomes difficult to understand why a certain action is or isn’t taken,” Keen said, “and I realize that in the absence of information from the police, speculation and rumor will be presented and re-told until they are then presented and accepted as facts, and when there is silence from the police, this becomes the only truth people know.”

He said the lack of information released by police is intended to protect the integrity of the investigation, “so that evidence and statements can be collected in an objective and unbiased manner.”

He said investigators are collecting additional statements, reviewing evidence collected at the scene, waiting for the release of medical records, and have subpoenaed cell phone records.

“While this case is not as straight-forward as it might seem from the outside, it is by no means over, and doesn’t end with this arrest,” Keen said.

He noted that a lot of misinformation has been posted in public forums that is false and contradicts videotaped evidence, photographs and the accounts of both men involved in the case. He also said that threats have been made against some of the people involved in the stabbing.

“I don’t believe that most of this information is purposely being presented falsely. However, that is not uncommon when information is relayed from one person to another,” Keen said. “If you truly believe that the information you are receiving is correct, trace the source of that information, and see if it is from first-hand knowledge, and not something that was heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. If you can truly say that the information comes from first-hand information, then those people need to come forward, and provide that information so it can be evaluated in terms of the other evidence. Otherwise, relaying false information knowingly not only hurts the credibility of those relaying it, and ultimately works against their cause.”

The Terre Haute Police Department can be contacted at 812-238-1661.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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